If you are behind on a debt, or you owe child support, back taxes or a student loan, a court judgment entered against you mandates that a portion of your wages be garnished from your paycheck. This money will be sent directly to the debtor until it is paid off or other arrangements are made.
Differing from wage garnishment, a bank levy or non-wage garnishment, is where creditors can take money directly from your bank account and not go through your employer or paycheck.
You must be legally notified of the garnishment. You must be served with a summons that lists the items or services you agreed to pay, the amounts due and shows that you failed to make the payments. You typically have 30 days from the date you were served to submit a written response to dispute the debt. If you fail to respond the creditor will file a request for default an obtain a judgment against you.
If you are behind in child support, back taxes or student loans the money can be taken from your paycheck without a court order.
The person or institution that won the judgment against you takes the copy of the lawsuit to the local sheriff or marshal who will then forward it to your employer. There are legal limits about how much money can be withdrawn from your paycheck. Federal limits can be found on the Department of Labor website. States have different percentages and possibly more exemptions regarding how much money can be garnished from your check.
Asking the Court to Terminate
If too much is coming out of your check, or you want to protest the garnishment, you can file papers with the court. At the hearing, you must show evidence that you need your paycheck to pay expenses. The judge can either leave the garnishment in effect or terminate it.
If you have verified the debt truly is yours, and you tried working out a repayment plan with your creditors, and if the garnishment is still a financial burden, consider filing bankruptcy to obtain an automatic stay effectively halting most collection attempts including a lawsuit that has resulted in wage garnishment. Contact a Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney to get some answers about your situation and the debt relief you need.